Del Castillo: Independent Media in Colombia

Published: Tue 12 Jul 2005 11:39 AM
Del Castillo: Independent Media in Colombia
July 11, 2005
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The past two months have been explosive for the independent media and authentic journalists of Colombia. While members of various "alternative" media outlets across the country, from non-commercial newspapers to community radio stations, have moved forward in organizing networks to work more effectively on a national level, many of the country's most visible journalists that dare to question their government's military and social policies have been subject to death threats and physical attacks.
Today in the Narco News Bulletin, Laura del Castillo reviews this series of events, which speak loudly of the state of democracy in the United States' number-one ally in Latin America and its biggest recipient of drug war funding. Del Castillo reports from an unprecedented gathering of independent Colombian media and details the attitude of narco-president Alvaro Uribe in response to the press.
Del Castillo writes:
"On March 13, President Uribe, taking advantage of the occasion of his presentation during the recent meeting of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) in Panama, and trying to mitigate the vice president's statements a bit and reaffirm that image of being a 'friend to civil liberties' that he loves to manage in public, said that in Colombia "there is no censorship" on the media, and that the relationship between the government and journalists is one 'of independence and respect.' Although, he did add that the media should "control themselves" to avoid giving too much exposure to terrorist acts. (With such statements it is possible to understand how on various occasions the president himself has put pressure on the directors of various media outlets to either emit or omit certain information.)
"Of course, it must be rather strange for the government, the OAS, and all those who blindly believe that freedom of speech exists in Colombia, to listen to talk of alternative media. They will wonder, 'Alternative to what, if 'there is no censorship' in Colombia?' It will seem even stranger to them that a national event was organized one month ago, whose principal aim was to create ties between several projects in alternative communication and independent journalism in the country. And there will be no lack of those who think that the event constituted several days of subversive indoctrination or something like that, because 'that word, alternative, sounds a lot like terrorism, doesn't it?'"
Among other things, Laura del Castillo relates the startling story of Daniel Coronell, one of three journalists to receive funeral bouquets delivered to their doors in the same week. Coronell traced threatening emails back to an IP originating from the house of a certain former congressman and personal friend of President Alvaro Uribe.
Read the whole story, here:
From somewhere in a country called América,
Dan Feder
Managing Editor
The Narco News Bulletin

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